What is North Carolina Phone Spoofing?
When a caller intentionally transmits false information to a receiver’s caller ID display to disguise their identity, this is called spoofing. Scammers use this trick, so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a known number, for example, a Government number, a neighbor’s number, or a company that the receiver knows.
The rapid increase in Internet telephone technology has made caller ID spoofing and phone scams more predominant. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology makes it easier for people to spoof caller IDs. Some VoIP providers provide facilities that allow subscribers to input the phone number they want to appear as their caller ID. This occurs during system configuration, so the number displayed as their caller ID is their chosen number and not the number in the database registry.
Phone or Caller ID spoofing is considered illegal in the United States, mainly when used to perpetrate crimes and fraud. The federal regulation that deals with caller ID spoofing is the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. It makes it unlawful to intentionally display false caller identification to commit fraud and other crimes. The punishment for spoofing is usually by paying cash fines, although some states are beginning to add jail time for offenders. Specific law enforcement purposes are exempt from the law, and customers are allowed to remain anonymous and not transmit any caller identification at all. People use caller ID spoofing to commit a variety of crimes. Some of these crimes are listed below.
Scammers spoof the receivers’ caller IDs to display caller information of government agencies or businesses that residents are likely to answer. A common form is the law enforcement scam, where a scammer spoofs the phone number of a local law enforcement agency. They pretend to be law enforcement officers and extort money from unsuspecting residents to stop arrests for non-existing crimes and fines.
Some residents use phone spoofing to play pranks and harass their fellow residents.
They spoof their caller IDs and make prank phone calls to unsuspecting people. These calls may escalate from just verbal abuse and mischief to serious mayhem. Some pranksters spoof their numbers to look like emergency services and call in bomb threats to cause significant disruptions to their victims’ lives and businesses.
Scammers may call residents from what appears to be a reputable local business or company and find out it is a robocall. The recorded message instructs the resident to answer a few questions for a survey or leaves a phone number to call a live agent. The survey questions are designed to trick the resident into giving up sensitive information, and the live agent is the scammer.
How Do You Know If Your Number Is Being Spoofed?
If you start to receive calls or text messages from numbers you have never contacted. Chances are you are being spoofed. Usually, this happens when scammers have used your number for fraudulent activities. To avoid being associated with these scams, file a complaint with the FCC on their website or call 1-888-CALL FCC (225-5322).
Why is Phone Spoofing Illegal?
Phone or caller ID spoofing is considered illegal in the United States when used to commit crimes. The federal regulation that deals with caller ID is the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. The law makes it unlawful to intentionally display false caller identification to commit fraud and other crimes. Cash fines are the regular punishment, although some states are adding jail time for offenders. Spoofing for specific law enforcement purposes is exempt from this law, and customers are allowed to stay anonymous and not transmit any identification information.
Scammers use caller identification spoofing because it allows them to contact their potential victims covertly. Scammers use caller ID spoofing to impersonate entities like law enforcement, whom the public are more likely to respond when they call. Spoofing will make the receivers' caller IDs display the local police station’s caller information when the scammers are calling from overseas.
How Can You Identify and Protect Yourself from Illegal Spoofed Calls?
Spoofed calls imitate real phone numbers and make it hard to identify the scammers behind them; however, residents can take steps to protect themselves. Some of these are listed below.
- Hang up the call if a caller from an organization like a bank or the IRS tries to collect sensitive information they should already have.
- Hang up the call if a call from the local law enforcement tries to extort money with threats of arrest.
- Obtain and install a phone number lookup application that will help you block any numbers you identify as a spoofed call. If you put a number through the search and receive no result, it is a sign the number may be spoofed.
- Report any experiences with spoofed calls to the Federal Trade Commission by filing a complaint on their website or calling 1-888-382-1222.
- To counter spoofed robocalls, residents can register on the National Do Not Call Register. Numbers on these lists are exempt from robocalls.
Does North Carolina Have Anti-Spoofing Laws?
In 2019, the North Carolina Legislature passed House Bill 724, which makes it illegal to spoof Caller IDs. The Bill reads as follows “No Telephone solicitor shall cause misleading information to be transmitted to users of caller identification technologies or otherwise block or misrepresent the origin of the telephone solicitation."
Under this legislation, businesses or persons caught still using phone spoofing may be made to pay restitution to any victims.
The federal anti-spoofing regulation in America is the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009. This act passed in 2009, makes it illegal in the United States for anyone to cause any caller identification service to transmit a misleading or inaccurate caller identification information to defraud knowingly, cause harm, or wrongfully acquire anything of value. Residents are allowed to be anonymous by choosing not to transmit any identification at all. Some government and law enforcement purposes are also exempted from the act. Penalties imposed on offenders are fines between $10,000 and $1,000,000.
The FCC informed all voice service providers that by June 2021, caller ID authentication should be available on their networks using the STIR/SHAKEN protocols. These protocols authenticate caller identification information at the origin of the phone call and again at its destination before it finally reaches the receiver.
What are Common Phone Scams involving Caller ID Spoofing in North Carolina?
Scammers use phone spoofing to get residents of the state to answer their calls. They often take on identities of familiar organizations and government agencies to fool residents and steal their money and personal information. Residents who experience any phone spoofing scams can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Residents may also contact the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-888-382-1222. Some examples of the phone spoofing scams that occur in North Carolina are listed below.
- Law enforcement impersonation scams
- Fake Government Grant scams
- Telemarketing scams
- Elderly scams
- Banking scams
- Medicare insurance scams
- Charity scams
- Utility bill scams